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Created on 04.04.2024

SEPA transfers from Switzerland: how they work

Would you like to surprise your relatives or friends abroad with a sum of money, pay for your holiday apartment in Italy or settle the invoice for a gift you ordered online from a faraway country? This is quick and easy with an international payment. SEPA transfers in euros from Switzerland to 36 SEPA countries are even free of charge via e-finance.

For whatever reason you want to transfer money abroad, you can make your transfers from Switzerland to abroad with just a few clicks. With international payments, your money can be on its way in no time at all, whether the recipient is in Italy, Serbia or Thailand. Our examples show how it works:

Example 1: Transferring the rent for the holiday apartment in Italy

The Klein family is spending their next holiday by the sea in Italy. Friends of theirs have recommended a holiday flat. The Italian landlady has asked them to transfer the rent to her account in advance. But the Kleins have only the name and address of the landlady and the IBAN. So the Klein family isn’t sure whether these details are enough to transfer the money to the account at the Italian bank. They are also wondering how high the fees for international payments will be. Can the Klein family benefit from free SEPA transfers in euros even in Switzerland?

Tip 1: For SEPA transfers from Switzerland, only name, address and IBAN are needed

The IBAN, name and address of the account holder are sufficient for SEPA payments. The BIC is no longer required.

Tip 2: SEPA payments from Switzerland to the SEPA area via e-finance are free of charge

International payments in euros from Switzerland to Italy and 26 other EU countries, as well as to Andorra, the UK, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Norway, San Marino and Vatican City are free for you as a customer in e-finance. SEPA is the abbreviation for Single Euro Payments Area − the standardized payment region that enables easy and transparent payment transactions in Europe. E-finance automatically defines whether a SEPA payment is possible or not based on the information you enter. Please note: SEPA transfers from Switzerland are available only in euros (not in francs). 

Example 2: Sending last-minute birthday money to the UK

Rose has been working in Switzerland for two years. Her father has an important birthday this year. Rose is tied up at work and can’t make it back to London for her father’s birthday celebrations. She’s been so busy that she even forgot to send a present in time. She still wants to surprise her father with some money that she will send via bank transfer to her parents’ family account. But time is short. The birthday is just three days away. How long does the transfer take?

Tip: The “urgent” option for last-minute transfers

With international payments worldwide (Giro international worldwide), the credit takes one to two working days. It’s even quicker with the “urgent” option. When the acceptance cut-off time is met, the amount is usually transferred on the same working day. The “urgent” option is available for transfers in EUR, USD, CHF, CAD, GBP, NOK, SEK, CZK, HUF, PLN and ZAR.

Example 3: Helping family in Serbia

25-year-old Miroslava has lived with her parents in Switzerland since she was four years old. But she spends the summer and Christmas holidays in her parents’ native country of Serbia as often as possible. She always visits her grandmother there. Miroslava also supports her grandmother financially. Whenever she has money remaining from her salary, she transfers CHF 50 to her Baka’s account.

Tip: SEPA payment – yes or no? E-finance identifies the type of payment itself

Is an international payment to Serbia a SEPA payment? You don’t need to worry about it. When you enter the international payment into e-finance, PostFinance automatically determines whether it is a SEPA payment based on the recipient country. In fact, Serbia is not part of the SEPA area. This means that international payments are made with Giro international (see also: How international payments work in e-finance). 

Example 4: Paying an invoice for a vintage gift from the US

Vivienne’s boyfriend collects radios from the 1950s and loves American design. On the website of a vintage retailer in the USA, Vivienne has found a collector’s item that would be perfect for her loved one. It’s the perfect gift for an anniversary. According to the retailer, it will be delivered as soon as the amount is paid in advance. How can Vivienne ensure that the agreed amount gets to the retailer?

Tip: Manage the charges for Giro international

The fees for international payments via e-finance outside of the SEPA region are two francs (for Giro international worldwide) or 12 francs (for Giro international urgent). Third-party fees can also arise per dispatch that are charged by the foreign banks involved. You have the option of paying these charges so that the recipient receives the full amount. To do this, select the option “Charges to be paid by originator”. This option is not available for SEPA transfers from Switzerland to the SEPA area, as deductions are not permitted from the transfer amount.

Example 5: Sending a payment to fund a year abroad in Thailand

Anna is studying in Bangkok for a year as part of her degree. The 23-year-old only has a small budget to finance her life outside university. And her money is running out. When Anna tells her parents David and Ruth about her financial difficulties, they transfer a generous additional amount to her host parents’ account. 

Tip: If possible, transfer money in the recipient’s account currency

For each international payment, it is useful to clarify the currency of the recipient’s account (in this case the currency of the host parents’ account), and to check whether it is one of the currencies offered by PostFinance. If so, select the recipient’s account currency as the transfer currency. This way, you avoid the costs of multiple currency exchanges.

How international payments work in e-finance

Do you too need to transfer money to an international account? Regardless of whether you make one-off, occasional or regular foreign payments, simply follow the steps below:
  • Log in to your e-finance
  • Under “Payments”, enter the international IBAN or account number for the recipient
  • Enter the required details such as the address, amount and the urgency of the transfer (Option “urgent”)
  • PostFinance automatically selects the optimal and least expensive option for you.
  • PostFinance automatically selects the best and most favourable route for you from Switzerland to abroad – for example, SEPA transfer
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